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Finger-Pointing As Washington Budget Negotiations Go Nowhere Fast

Washington State Legislature.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, left, and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp.


There’s plenty of finger pointing, but not a lot of progress toward a budget deal in the Washington capitol. Legislative leaders took turns Thursday blaming each other for the slow pace of budget talks.

The sticking points include the overall size of the next two year budget, whether to fund negotiated contracts for state employees and how big teacher cost of living raises should be. But the big debate is over how to fund the state budget.

House Democrats have proposed a $1.5 billion tax package.

But Senate Republican leader Mark Schoesler notes they haven’t passed it.

“So, they’ve written a check they can’t cash," Schoesler said.

In a rare meeting with reporters, Speaker of the House Frank Chopp, a Democrat, called the Senate budget “smoke and mirrors.”

“They need to recognize that and get real about passing a real balanced budget," Chopp said.

Washington lawmakers are meeting in a 30-day special session to hash out a budget deal. If they don’t find agreement, the governor will have to call them back for a second overtime.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."